Everybody wants more for less and estates are no exception. When it comes to guarding, estate managers want to know that their human resources are doing what they are supposed to do, especially if something happens. After an incident they need to be able to show their board that the guards were at their posts and responded as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and – hopefully – all’s well.
Moreover, estates also want technology to assist them in planning and optimising their guard force, ensuring the estate is covered in the optimal manner at all times. And, if one is honest, many want to have less guards on site and more technology.
There are, of course, a number of options when it comes to retaining a company to run the guarding of an estate. One can retain a company that only supplies guarding, a service provider offering humans and technology, or the estate can take on the task of hiring and maintaining its own guard force. In addition, of course, there are mixtures of these and other options suited to specific environments.
To find out more about the guarding function on residential estates, we asked three companies that play different roles in the guarding function what they offer estates in terms of managing their guards and ensuring their service meets the standards customers require.
Technology for performance
We have moved beyond the days of planning and managing guards on paper and with clipboards with a lot of ticks in the boxes. Quite frankly, we have also moved beyond the use of spreadsheets into the age where technology – hardware and software – is a means to handle the day-to-day tasks of managing guards.
Tiziana Hayward, marketing and sales director at Stallion Security, explains that the company uses multiple measures and tools to optimise the performance of its staff. Stallion makes use of a range of technology from its suppliers and has not developed specific tools in-house, however the data from the various systems used is integrated into one platform called the Business Management System (BMS).
Casey De Villiers from Activeye, the artificial intelligence (AI) business of the Active Track Group, says Active Eye builds on estates’ existing security infrastructure with its Activeye Machine Vision solution. “This solution was developed in-house by our team of software engineers,” she explains. “A server is deployed on site and the artificial intelligence software is loaded onto it. The site’s CCTV is then linked to the server.”
The solution introduces a rule-based environment that builds a database of so-called normal versus abnormal behaviours. When an abnormal event occurs – such as a person entering a premises outside normal hours, or an individual arriving with a weapon – officers on site are notified of the event.
Activeye uses a combination of analytics tools to generate rules based on site activities, which are thereafter processed by an AI engine. The company’s platform relies on various analytics tools, which include facial recognition, car counting, people counting, vehicle identification, age approximation, gender, ethnicity, emotional states, human-related traits and object identification.
These analytics tools are applied to the data captured by on-site CCTV. Activeye can exceed the data captured by any other CCTV solution on the market by converting any general purpose 2 MP IP or analogue cameras into a facial recognition and number plate recognition camera. The solution plugs into the existing camera system at the site. It does not interfere with the video management system or analytics that are used with the surveillance installation.
OnGuard’s managing director, Richard Frost, says his company has been developing tools for the guarding industry since 2004. The company provides OnGuard Mobi, an app that runs on a rugged mobile device that guards carry with them on their patrols. It also supplies the mobile device itself, which was designed by a German company; the software is all locally developed. OnGuard Mobi gives supervisors the technology needed to keep track of tour guard routes and their activities, and it supports push-to-talk to ensure two-way communications are possible.
OnGuard also offers the Identiscan electronic visitor management system (EVMS), again a combination of a rugged mobile device and an app (software) designed by OnGuard.
Looking at some of the other tools the company has developed over the years, Frost says, “In our stable there are various options available to our customers. For example, we have the simple ‘stay awake’ which functions as a ‘dead man’s handle,’ forcing the guard to get up from his fixed post and patrol to one single point every few minutes. Then there is our tried and tested i-button patrol system that is almost indestructible. All our systems are configured remotely and have the same simple web interface for reporting and management.”
Of course, OnGuard Mobi is the front-end solution for guard patrols and Frost explains that the back office runs on a portal management system that can be accessed via the Internet. A guard supervisor, for example, could login and see the current routes guards have been instructed to take, and modify them as well as the schedules as required. Any information that needs to be in the guards’ hands will also be synchronised with the Mobi device. The management platform is also capable of pulling in the video feeds from most CCTV cameras to assist in the management of the full security function.
Stallion’s Hayward says the company makes use of a web-based system to plot guard routes and is able to determine how long each route should take. Feedback can also be stored from the guard patrols as they check in at the designated checkpoints. Because it is web based, the routes can be optimised and changed at any time and sent to the respective patrol units.
In addition, Hayward adds that various other security systems can be integrated into the Stallion BMS, including access control, CCTV, patrol and fleet management systems. The system will use the data to measure the performance of the estate’s security infrastructure according to specific key performance indicators (KPI) determined by the estate.
Optimising guard patrols is not strictly part of the Activeye Machine Vision solution, however, De Villiers says the company can include it for an additional fee. “The negative aspect of guarding systems is that the patrols are generally highly predictable and carried out at the same time, following the same sequence or route. We have found a way to randomise patrols while still maintaining the same, if not increased, service levels.”
The integration of the patrol solution will form part of the integration of other systems – like CCTV – that the system requires to deliver optimal service to the estate.
For the residential estate, service is the key as the full security function must be operating at full capacity all the time.
The service you pay for
Hayward explains that for Stallion it’s all about selling an integrated solution that manages your and your staff’s performance in real time. “Through continuous risk assessments, keeping up to date with the technology and demand, as well as innovation, it is possible to motivate solutions which are simple and cost-effective, and importantly, reduce costs on shift visits, wear and tear on vehicles, fuel and insurance, etc.
“In summary, we have the products to monitor the supervisors and guards in real time to ensure that they are executing their tasks and meeting their KPIs to the highest industry standards.”
Frost notes that OnGuard charges a monthly or annual fee for its services (whichever the client prefers). The fee includes all services from OnGuard, including the hardware, connectivity, back-end services, on-site maintenance and telephonic support.
Similarly, Activeye supplies its solution on a rental basis, which includes all fees. “No capex is required as the software can be implemented with existing CCTV systems,” states De Villiers.
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